Jun. 4th, 2010

keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
I've read barely anything these past few weeks and months, but today I finished Guy Gavriel Kay's newest novel, which didn't fail to awe me. And with that, I think it an appropriate time to quickly write up my backlog of reviews and start afresh, hopefully more on-time. (Note that the updated master booklist is on DW.)

Everyday Asian
by Marnie Henricksson
193 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Nonfiction/Cooking

Actually useful. I am supremely picky, enough to modify most of the Southeast Asian recipes beyond recognition, but that's just me. I especially appreciated the ingredient explanations (e.g. onions vs. shallots vs. garlic vs. scallions) and the genuine home-cook approach to Asian cuisine.

Ice Queen
by Joey W. Hill
211 pages
Genre: Fiction/Romance

Depicts a powerful romantic chemistry, but the ending left me unsatisfied. It does not illustrate how I perceive a switch relationship--Marguerite should be able to Master Tyler just as he Masters her, a uniquely equal give-and-take in a world ruled by unequal power... but when a (female) switch is paired with a (male) Dominant-only, and is portrayed as happy with this, it strikes my intuition the wrong way. Fundamentally, I am unconvinced that Marguerite can be a Mistress if she allows Tyler to utterly Dominate her.

Other than that quirk, it's a lovely romance story and recommended with the usual Joey Hill caveats. I do prefer her Vampire Queen series to this one, for the plotty intrigue and fantasy aspects.

Kings and Assassins
by Lane Robins
353 pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy

The sequel to Maledicte--more bloody, enigmatic, and divine gods. This one focuses on Janus rather than Miranda, although other characters get POV time as well. I'm not sure how I feel about Lane Robins's work. I liked this novel enough to earn it a spot on my limited bookshelf space, yet I don't remember very much a few months later, and memorability can be telling.

Demon Princess
by Michelle Rowen
? pages (trade paperback)
Genre: Fiction/YA/Fantasy

Plot: girl discovers she is faerie half-demon royalty, must also decide between two competing love interests... what else is new? I expected and received fluff--a brief skim-type read while sitting in Borders--but still I was disappointed by the triteness of it all. Don't bother.

Change of Heart
by Jodi Picoult
447 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Fiction/Literary/Mainstream

I'm not sure how to characterize this by genre--mainstream? It's not really "literary," but my tagging system doesn't distinguish. Oh well.

I had this on my TBR list but not very high-priority; a friend gave me a hardcover for my birthday, so I started reading on a whim (as usual) and got sucked in. Picoult is good at compelling reader attention, even if her work is of questionable literary merit. If you're interested in having heartstrings tugged about religion, the death penalty, and female self-esteem--this is the book for you!
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Under Heaven
by Guy Gavriel Kay
573 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Fiction/Fantasy/Historical

Let me say first: READ IT NOW, if you are a Kay fan. Or a historical fantasy fan. Or a lyrical-writing fan. Or a Chinaphile (great references to follow-up in the Acknowledgements). Or a GRRM fan, because this reminded me of his epics. One similarity they share: what do you say in summary, when so much has happened?

In the beginning, this is the tale of a minor-aristocratic man in imperial Kitai who mourns his father's death by burying the dead of a great battle by a long-haunted lake. In honor of his travails, after two years, Shen Tai receives an outrageous gift from the White Jade Princess who married into foreign Tagura: 250 Sardian horses, Heavenly Horses from the far west, so very rare in Kitai. And so Tai is thrust unwillingly into a world of dance and music, of words and blades, of beauty and sorrow and love.

More than that, you must read for yourself--the journey is awe-inspiring. Though he does not shied from violence, Kay manages to evoke a sweeping epic feel without quite as much bloodshed as George R.R. Martin. There is beauty in Martin's story, too, but what I love about Kay--what shines in all of his novels, but especially this one and in Tigana--is the brief lingerings on significant minor characters, or insignificant major characters, and their paths decreed by the twin whims of fate and will.

Okay, I'll stop waxing now, I promise. Under Heaven ranks with Tigana and the Sarantine Mosaic duology in being one of my favorites of Kay's work. So go READ IT NOW.


keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)

January 2011


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